I walk up to the KingFisher Airlines counter at Chennai Airport in order to check-in for my flight to Coimbatore. I hand over the printed sheet with the booking details. The lady at the counter takes one quick look at it and says, “Sorry sir, the flight has been cancelled”.
Cancelled, huh? I wasn’t surprised. Knowing the situation that Kingfisher Airlines is in, I was half expecting it. But I felt bad for the organizers of the ‘India Leadership Summit’ who booked the tickets 3 months in advance for me to come and speak at their event. Its highly unfair to them.
Me and my friend Vijay Anand, who is flying along with me, tell the lady in no uncertain terms that its important that we be there. The lady asks us to wait while she promises to find a solution. Half hour passes. We approach her again. She has no good answer. I begin to get annoyed and the annoyance was clearly written on my face.
I know its not her fault but too bad she’s in the firing line. She pleads for more time. I start to suspect that this is all just a time-wasting game. Just as we had given up hope and mentally thinking of taking an over-night bus to Coimbatore, the lady calls us and hands over two tickets to Coimbatore via Bangalore. Its a longer route but at least we get to fly.
The next day we return back to Chennai after the event. It was late at night and while waiting in line at the Taxi booking counter inside the Chennai airport, we see the same Kingfisher lady.
I felt a bit guilty for showing my annoyance to the lady who in the end was genuinely trying to find a solution. The least I could do is thank her. As I walk up to her, I couldn’t help notice how tired her face was. Obviously a long day of facing the ire of passengers like me. I thank her for yesterday’s tickets. She recognized us quickly. And you should have seen her smile. It wasn’t the plastic smile that airline staff usually give. I can read that from a mile. This was a genuine one.
I can tell that it certainly lifted her spirits. Strangely, do did mine. I’ll never forget her smile. It warmed my heart. I felt good.
3 seconds. That’s all it took to say thanks. And then I wondered if I did that to other people who helped me. People who do little things in our daily lives. I don’t mean a cursory thanks but a genuine, heart-felt one. The answer. Not always.
That’s exactly what Drew Dudley says we should do more of in this wonderful TEDx talk. We have all changed someone’s life — usually without even realizing it. Drew Dudley believes leadership is not a characteristic reserved for the extraordinary. In this funny talk from TEDxToronto, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each others’ lives.
Watch this video.